Researchers at CERN’s ATLAS experiment have achieved a groundbreaking feat by measuring the quantum entanglement of top quarks at an energy level that surpasses all previous experiments by a staggering 12 orders of magnitudes. Quantum entanglement, a phenomenon that is beyond our everyday experience, occurs when particles become intertwined at a fundamental level. This means that if one particle is affected, its entangled counterpart will be instantaneously influenced, regardless of the distance between them.
While initially dubbed as “spooky action at a distance” by Albert Einstein, quantum entanglement is proving to be an invaluable quality for the future of quantum computers and communication systems. However, the energy attained at CERN is far above what is currently available for practical applications.
Of particular interest to the researchers are the top quarks, which are among the heaviest fundamental particles and are often created in pairs during particle collisions. Utilizing data collected between 2015 and 2018, the ATLAS experiment focused on studying these entangled pairs. The investigation revealed a level of entanglement that defies explanation without considering the entangled nature of the quarks.
Top quarks possess peculiar characteristics, resembling heavier counterparts of the up quark found within protons and neutrons. However, their instability causes them to decay incredibly rapidly, vanishing in a mere 5×10−25 seconds. This exceptionally short lifetime allows scientists to indirectly probe various properties of the standard model of particle physics, including the mass of the elusive Higgs boson.
To conduct these tests, scientists study the decay products generated when top-quark pairs come into existence. The team at ATLAS successfully measured the degree of entanglement in the decay products, surpassing the stringent standards set by the field of particle physics.
The groundbreaking results, surpassing all expectations, were presented at the recent ATLAS conference. The achievement not only expands our understanding of quantum entanglement but also opens up new avenues of exploration for the potential applications of entangled particles in quantum computing and communication systems.